ESCoE Research Seminar, 15 October 2019: “Communicating Data Uncertainty: Experimental Evidence for the UK GDP”, Ana Beatriz Galvão

Communicating Data Uncertainty: Experimental Evidence for the UK GDP

Presented by Ana Beatriz Galvão (University of Warwick and ESCoE)

ESCoE Research Seminar, Tuesday 15 October 2019,  16:00-17:00

Venue: Office for National Statistics, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QQ

Economic statistics, such as GDP growth, are subject to data revisions. But initial releases of GDP data are commonly published without any direct quantitative indication of their uncertainty. With the aim of assessing empirically if and how the public and more experienced users interpret and understand GDP data uncertainty in the UK, we conduct both randomised controlled online experiments and a targeted expert survey. The specially designed surveys are used to assess: (1) perceptions of the uncertainty in single-valued GDP growth numbers; (2) the public’s interpretation and understanding of uncertainty information communicated in different formats; and (3) how communicating uncertainty affects trust in the data and the producer of these data. We find that the majority of the public understand that there is uncertainty inherent in GDP numbers; but communicating uncertainty information improves the public’s understanding of why data revisions happen. It encourages them not to take GDP point estimates at face-value, but does not decrease trust in the data. We find that it is especially helpful to communicate uncertainty information quantitatively using intervals, density strips and bell curves.


Ana Beatriz Galvão is Professor of Economic Modelling and Forecasting at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.  Her areas of expertise are empirical macroeconomics, forecasting and nonlinear time series. Ana’s research has been widely published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Econometrics and the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics. Ana is currently Associate Editor of the International Journal of Forecasting, the Journal of Applied Econometrics and Economic Modelling.

The event is free but registration is required. To RSVP please visit our Eventbrite page.

ESCoE Research Seminars are held fortnightly at 16:00 – 17:00 on Tuesdays during Term time. The schedule for forthcoming seminars is available here:

Please note: Your passport or other official ID will be required for entry to the venue.  Please ensure you bring the original of your ID.

Registration opens from 15:30 with tea and coffee available on arrival.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019